The Frenchmen were in the quarterfinals of the Eurobasket tournament, against the hometown Slovenians, and it only makes sense that France had its skeptics. Rewind just over three years ago to witness Slovenia's Goran Dragic outplay Tony Parker and completely tear up the Spurs for a 26 point fourth quarter in the Western Conference Semifinals. Fast-forward to this morning to find that France has lost two of its last three Eurobasket games. This game was a win-or-go-home format, and it was time for the stars to show up, and boy did Tony Parker show up in this 72-62 French victory.
The past three games, Parker averaged an unimpressive 14.7 points and 2.3 assists. He didn't look good, and was often outplayed by bigger guards. If France wanted to beat this talented Slovenian team, Parker would need to carry the offensive load. Almost everything was run exclusively through Parker all night. While France has many offensive options, they had a tough time doing much of anything when Parker was on the bench, with even the announcers saying the French didn't "know where the offense was coming from". His penetration led to many easy layups that were a major part of his 27 points, and also seven drawn fouls.
On the defensive end, Mickael Gelabale, Alexis Ajinca, and Nicolas Batum's size and athleticism was too much for the Slovenians. Their ability to block shots and disrupt the passing lanes completely tore apart any ball movement the Slovenians had, limiting them to just nine assists in the game. All of their defensive efforts helped spur fastbreaks, which Parker usually capitalized on. Even Parker did an admirable job against Dragic, who still managed 18 points and six assists.
I know I've left Diaw out of my recaps, but I think that his play is definitely worth mentioning. Like most of the Frenchmen, Diaw has beautiful court vision. Against smaller defenders, Diaw dominates in the post because he is a threat to pass or make fadeaway jumpers and post moves. On the defensive end, Diaw has been surprisingly dominant, forcing his opponents into tough shots and occasionally blocking a few, as well.
De Colo came into the game at around the three minute mark of the first quarter, which is earlier than usual. He didn't play too much in the game, with only 17 minutes in total. With only four points, two boards, and an assist, De Colo was relatively ineffective and unimportant in the game.
Despite an admirable effort from Goran Dragic, the Slovenians trailed almost the entire game. They were simply too dependent on Dragic to score on isolation plays since the team doesn't have many other offensive options aside from Goran's brother, Zoran and Domen Lorbek. Lorbek is another name that should sound familiar for Spurs fans, since his brother, Erazem Lorbek had his rights traded to the Spurs as a part of the George Hill-Kawhi Leonard trade. While Erazem was unable to participate in Eurobasket due to an injury, his brother was a solid contributor for the Slovenians. When Slovenia started to lose momentum in the second half, Domen kept Slovenia in the game with some clutch shooting and forced turnovers.
With the victory, France moves onto the semifinals to face Spain. These are undoubtedly two of the most talented teams in the Eurobasket tournament, and should make for a great game that is worth checking out.